Since joining the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams organization, there’s been much speculation, and oftentimes blame, regarding the decision-making of head coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead.
Who’s making the draft picks and free agent moves? Who is ultimately making the personnel decisions - whether they pan out or not - for the team? Who should be held accountable for the moves that don’t work? Who’s calling the shots? Is it Jeff or Les?
The answer probably lies somewhere in the middle, and it’s not my intention to help solve the mystery. As a matter of fact, I’m not even sure it matters, considering once those players are acquired, it’s certainly not Les Snead’s job to develop them [especially the rookies] and put them in a position to succeed.
If I had to call it though, I’d say Snead gets a lot of credit for what occurs in the draft -- like selecting Aaron Donald and Todd Gurley. He probably also gets quite a bit of credit for nabbing undrafted guys, like Johnny Hekker and Rodney McLeod, that contribute in a big way for the team.
Fisher gets the blame. Whether wrong or right, the finger is pointed at the head coach. And that’s true in every NFL organization. Drafting Tavon Austin was a great move by Les Snead. Not being able to adequately utilize his skill sets in the offense is a Fisher problem. At least that’s the pulse for some.
On Monday, our very own BMule went in-depth on Jeff Fisher’s draft history, covering 20+ years of picks made with Fisher as head coach. I phrase it as such because it wouldn’t be fair to assume that Fisher, who probably has a little more leverage now than he had in the early stages of his career, was single-handedly making the draft picks nearly two decades ago. And that, in all likelihood, holds true today.
Was Isaiah Pead truly a bad running back, or did the coaching staff fail to do their jobs in helping him transition to the NFL? Who knows? The truth is that it’s probably difficult for a vast majority of young NFL players to seamlessly transition from college to the pros. But we chalk it up as a wasted second round "Snisher" pick and move on.
Finding quality starters in late rounds is far more difficult than it is early on, and NFL teams can’t afford to miss on second round picks like the Rams did with Pead. And while he’s contributed far more than Pead [and that’s not saying much] Brian Quick is another player who hasn’t really lived up to his draft status.
And, under Jeff Fisher, he’s not the only second round receiver to flounder as a pro. As a matter of fact, the amount of second round receivers that proved successful after being drafted by a Jeff Fisher lead team is...well...zero.
Joey Kent, Tennessee [Career: 1997-1999]
Kent was the 46th overall selection of the 1997 draft. In his rookie season he played in 12 games, caught six passes for 55 yards, and had one touchdown. And that was pretty much the best year of his career.
Kent played in the NFL for three seasons [30 games], tallying 13 catches for 159 yards, and that lone touchdown from ’97.
Tyrone Calico, Middle Tennessee St. [Career: 2003-2005]
Calico was the 60th overall selection in the 2003 draft. In his rookie season he played in 14 games, caught 18 passes for 297 yards, and had four touchdowns. And that was pretty much the best year of his career.
Calico played in the NFL for three seasons [27 games], tallying 42 catches for 501 yards, and those four touchdowns from ’03.
Brian Quick, Appalachian State [Career: 2012-Present]
Quick may very well be the only recognizable name of the bunch, but it’s certainly not because he’s excelled in the NFL. The pick, a head scratcher at the time, was a "down the road" move the Rams made in the 2012 draft. It was never their intention to have him step in and be the team’s star wideout in Week 1 of his rookie year.
And it was slow going to start...probably slower than the coaching staff would’ve liked. It was definitely slower than the fanbase would’ve preferred.
In his rookie year, he played in 15 games, but only had 11 catches for 156 yards, scoring twice. Things didn’t pick up much in his sophomore season, despite playing in every game [the only time he’s done so in his four year career], but an improved second year resulted in 18 receptions for 302 yards, again with two scores. The 2014 season was where it looked like things started to click for Quick, but a season-ending injury surgery put that to a halt. And in 2015, he was almost a non-factor again.